Year End Thoughts

2021 had it’s ups and downs. The pandemic still isn’t over, many of us are dealing with inventory issues and inflation is driving us all nuts. As unsure as all of this has been, I’m thankful for the bright spots that I’ve had this past year. In June I was promoted to Black Belt after training for ten years. I knew it was getting close, but even with that said, it all felt surreal.

I remember the nervous tension I felt after getting called up and the wave of emotion that came with it. I’m generally someone who stows their emotions away pretty well but the promotion brought up a lot of memories and feelings. You start thinking about the moments you wanted to quit and the injuries that forced you to take breaks. The competitions that you both won and loss. Everything flooded back, I’m not too proud to admit I nearly cried.

Injuries

Injuries have been a massive pain in the ass for me the last few months. I strained my hip flexor and groin training, to the point where I could barely lift my right leg when I was laying down, let alone being able to play any form of guard. As frustrating as the injury had been, because it lingered for so long, it made me study more. I invested more time in paying attention to how the students were rolling during class and what they needed to hear in terms of advice and tips. Injuries aren’t always a bad thing in the end.

Teaching

Teaching has been a huge positive for me this year. I’ve taken on more of a leadership role at both academies and thrown myself into the instructor role. A few months ago an opportunity popped up at Gracie La Mesa. A student approached me about helping out at their five a.m. class. Their previous instructor had moved on about two years ago to open his own academy.

Initially I stepped in to teach once a week to help them get organized, but that’s now developed to two or even three times a week. The Dawn Breakers are an amazing group of students who have cultivated their own community that takes care of each other on and off the mats.

The class itself has allowed me to plan and implement a class structure that I felt has been missed elsewhere. Because of the structure of the class, I have to prepare with a long term plan in mind. We review topics for weeks at a time in order to build a deeper understanding of the techniques with the emphasis of keeping things basic in order to get better faster.

I have learned so much about teaching and mentoring just from this class alone.

Writing

I’ve done a ton of writing this year, specifically during the second half. I’ve been working on some short stories, another Jiu-Jitsu handbook, and this blog. My time management has been better lately, which oddly enough might be due in part to my injuries. So there’s a blessing in that I guess.

My hope is to write two blogs a month, and finish up and release a few of my projects by the middle of next year. While these writing projects have been fun, they have also both been tedious and educational. I don’t look at movies and shows the same way anymore. I understand the writing process a bit more now and respect how difficult it is in the end. There’s so much self doubt and retracing of steps in hopes of making things better. Calling it a process is an understatement.

Final Thoughts

While the year has been far from perfect, my challenge to everyone is to look at the positive moments. Highlight the things you’re grateful for. It’s okay to be thankful and it’s more than okay to pat yourself on the back for the strides you’ve made during the year.

Published by David Figueroa-Martinez

I'm a Gracie Humaita Black Belt out of San Diego. I've been training Jiu-Jitsu since 2011 and started teaching in 2017.

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